Background: Protein intake above the RDA attenuates cardiometabolic risk in overweight and obese adults during weight loss. However, the cardiometabolic consequences of consuming higher-protein diets in free-living adults have not been determined.
Objective: This study examined usual protein intake [g/kg body weight (BW)] patterns stratified by weight status and their associations with cardiometabolic risk using data from the NHANES, 2001-2010 (n = 23,876 adults ≥19 y of age).
Methods: Linear and decile trends for association of usual protein intake with cardiometabolic risk factors including blood pressure, glucose, insulin, cholesterol, and triglycerides were determined with use of models that controlled for age, sex, ethnicity, physical activity, poverty-income ratio, energy intake (kcal/d), carbohydrate (g/kg BW) and total fat (g/kg BW) intake, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference.
Results: Usual protein intake varied across deciles from 0.69 ± 0.004 to 1.51 ± 0.009 g/kg BW (means ± SEs). Usual protein intake was inversely associated with BMI (-0.47 kg/m(2) per decile and -4.54 kg/m(2) per g/kg BW) and waist circumference (-0.53 cm per decile and -2.45 cm per g/kg BW), whereas a positive association was observed between protein intake and HDL cholesterol (0.01 mmol/L per decile and 0.14 mmol/L per g/kg BW, P < 0.00125).
Conclusions: Americans of all body weights typically consume protein in excess of the RDA. Higher-protein diets are associated with lower BMI and waist circumference and higher HDL cholesterol compared to protein intakes at RDA levels. Our data suggest that Americans who consume dietary protein between 1.0 and 1.5 g/kg BW potentially have a lower risk of developing cardiometabolic disease.
Keywords: NHANES; body mass index; high-density lipoprotein; recommended dietary allowance; waist circumference.
© 2015 American Society for Nutrition.